Thursday, December 29, 2011

Christmas at Camp Davenport Through a Lens

Just Because

I have so many posts to do, but as I scroll through the photos that will go along with them, I can't help but want to post this impromptu shot.  

Us ... all seven of us. 

My life is on this couch.

Oh how my cup over-floweth:).

Nothing for Granted

So my soldier's home for R&R.  We have had the blessing of his presence for 9 days now, which is amazing and wonderful and yet heart-wrenching all at the same time.  As much as we'd like to say we're not thinking about it, the big ol' elephant of 5 January is oh so present in every room and in every place we go.  But that's okay.  It's just a part of it and while it does make the tears well up in our eyes at the drop of a dime, we are still soaking up every.single.moment and taking nothing, nothing for granted.

I turned 38 on the 27th.  Richard and I were in SC visiting the family at Camp Davenport for a few days for Christmas. His Father ever so graciously allowed us a night out sans children.  So we got in the van and drove 45 miles to Asheville to our favorite pizza place of all time.  We first went to Barely's on our honeymoon, then several years later when I was pregnant with Hanson Ellis.  And on that random Tuesday night that was so cold, even the bitter wind and as near to snow drizzle as you can have, the streets of Asheville were packed and there was a standing room only from the time we walked into Barley's until the time we walked out.  Sitting across the table from Richard ... laughing, talking, remembering, dreaming about the future ... it was the perfect night out.

I am always thinking and taking what's around me in ... more than even I think I realize at times.  Sitting in that pizza place, enjoying the best birthday date I could ever wish for (seriously, good beer and pizza are it for me) it was almost too much for me to absorb.  Yes, being an Army Wife has ripped my heart apart so many times.  Our life has been not so much defined by war, but encompassed by it for far too long.  But ... but this is our life, my life and I am thankful for the hard ... for how it is hard.  If the hard wasn't so hard, the good wouldn't be so refreshing and I wouldn't trade how my heart embraces the sound of Richard's laughter, the stillness and smoothness of his cheek next to mine, how his hand holds mine and how when he's home I can always find a cup of coffee waiting for me in the morning or a beer opened for me on the counter when I walk into the kitchen to start dinner.  

It's been so good to have him home.  So good.  Life isn't perfect ... not in any way, but it is good and I am beyond humbled to have a God who so graciously opens my eyes in new ways everyday to His love and provisions.  

Working on the Welcome Home Surprise post.  I can't wait to share that story with you all!
Seven more days and taking nothing for granted ...

To God be the Glory.

Monday, December 19, 2011


Okay, I really don't like that word and I certainly don't believe in luck. But it seems fitting.  I could have said blessed, but to me that word seems almost more unreal than lucky ... it's just so overused in my book.

Yes, I am blessed.  But if I say that would those reading this really get that I mean that?  I don't know.  I just feel like lucky jumps out and grabs attention more than blessed.  So I titled this post lucky because I wanted to get your attention and now that I have it, I'll say that I am blessed.  Why?  Because year after year for almost a decade, I've sent my husband, a soldier, off to 8 countries (at least quickly that is what I come up with) on various missions and year after year for almost a decade, he's come home to me with not so much as a scratch on his body.  Also, I am blessed because God has preserved his mind and his spirit from so much time spent in difficult environments.

Today I woke up feeling blessed because despite what we were originally told, we were granted R&R and Richard will be home for Christmas.  While we did get to see him several times between the time he moved away from us in April until the time he deployed in September, it has still been 8 months since we shared a life together as a family.  It will be so nice to have a little bit of refreshment in our life as we face the remaining 8 months without him.  So yes, I woke up today feeling very blessed to have this gift.  But by early morning, the depth to which I felt blessed deepened.

This morning I received a note from a dear friend of mine with whom I worked in college.  After I graduated and married and moved away we kept in touch, but soon lost touch with each other for about 5 or 6 years.  Then one day I get an email from her.  I was thrilled.  Her brother was visiting her as he was getting ready to deploy to Iraq.  Since he was in the military, she asked him if there was any way he could find out Richard's email address so that she could link back up with me.  Low and behold, he was able to find out Richard's email and we were connected.  I'll never forget just a months after that I get an email with the subject line, "Please pray."  Oh how I did not want to open that email.  I knew.  I just knew what it contained.

Today she sent me a note and asked for prayer for her family as the ending of the war in Iraq just caught them off guard in opening the wounds of her brother's death almost 8 years ago.

So, the word lucky ... yeah, that was the word that jumped out in my mind.  To me it just meant that the depth of my blessings was so much greater than I remember it to be sometimes and always greater than I could ever deserve.

May we ... may I never forget the gift of life.  And may we all remember those who sacrificed theirs so that we could have ours.

And again, if you see a Veteran, tell them thank you.  Please make it a point in your life to acknowledge those who serve.  It means so much.

Praying for April and her family and for her brother's widow and four children tonight.

I am so thankful she sent me a note today.  I am thankful that she can open up to me.  I am thankful that I can reassure her that they are not forgotten.  It is an honor to pray for them all, and it's what God calls us to do.

So thankful for Jesus tonight, too.  Thinking of his birth and how he came to redeem the world.  We have hope in his birth, encouragement in his life and comfort in his words.

Looking forward to tomorrow.  What a priceless gift to be able to see my most favorite person face to face and to be scooped up into his arms.  Our girls have missed him so very much, too.  I am so thankful that their hurt will momentarily stop for the next 14 days.

As I've said before, our cup over-floweth.
I pray not a second goes by during his visit that I don't remember that.

To God be the Glory.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Just Days Left and Daddy Dolls

This is me.  

This is me Thanksgiving morning super thrilled that is the last holiday I'll spend without Richard this year.
(see how happy I am?!)
And this is why I do NOT participate in the "What I Wore Wednesday" posts in blogland.  

Y'all know this photo is hilarious!!!!!!!!! So awful, so not who I am, but still so filled with joy that I wanted to post it.  (I mean seriously, could my smile be any bigger???!!! I so knew once Thanksgiving was over I'd be seeing my soldier soon!)

This man, 

will be leaving this place

very soon and coming home to five completely un-expecting, but very deserving sweet girls.

I can hardly stand it.  As I type this there is an 8 year old throwing up with a stomach ache ... her third in just two weeks ... crying because she misses her Daddy.  Christmas is hard for her without her Daddy.  I knew it would be, but not to this extent.  She will be fine, but she is just young and has such a big heart for her Daddy.  She's old enough to be aware that he's gone and in a dangerous place and will be gone a while, but she's not old enough to really make sense of it all ... to understand and cling to the "honor" aspect of what he does.  She just misses her Daddy.  

On Richard's last trip home, we took photos of him with each girl individually.  They didn't know it, but we needed these photos for a special gift for them.  We ordered each girl their own Daddy Doll.  Richard picked out a verse special for each one too and we had it printed on the bottom. 

 I think at first a couple loved them right away and a couple sort of thought, "great another something for us because Daddy's gone."  They didn't really know what to think about it just yet.  Maybe it was just too powerful ... 

I don't know... but I do know that they love them.  I've watched them.  And I've seen their love of these dolls.  I wish I could show you the quiet moments where as I walk by their rooms and I see them reaching up on the dresser to get their doll down ... or when they get in the van after school and say "My Daddy Doll!" while they grab their doll and squeeze it with all their might.  

I wish you could see them in the morning sound asleep with a bed full of stuffed animals, but their head is leaning on their Daddy Doll.  ... or when I bring something to my 13 year old's room and she's sitting at her desk looking at  her doll.  They don't take them everywhere ... but they go to these dolls when they really miss their daddy.  They love these dolls.  They use these dolls.  They find comfort in them.  

I cannot say enough about the company who makes these dolls, too.  The customer service I received was amazing.  They even reimbursed me for some editing charges I paid for when they deemed the editing not that big of a deal.  They truly love the joy their dolls bring not just military children, but civilians, too!  

I need to go check on my sweet Patterson.  I think I'll go get her doll off her bed now and take it to her.  

I am thankful, so thankful for companies like this one who make such a big difference in little people's lives!  And I am beyond thankful that my girls will get the best Christmas present they can imagine this year.  I know not everyone will have this blessing.  

The Daddy Doll company would like to make a free doll for one of you.  If you have a little one who would like a doll, please submit a comment and I'll announce a winner on Christmas Eve.  I don't really like giveaways ... that is really not what this blog is about, but when this company offered, I couldn't refuse.  And remember, you do NOT have to be military to win!  (nor does this have to be a doll for a child and their Dad!! It could be a Mom or a grandparent ... )

Life is never without it's trials ... no matter who we are.  But if we stop and truly think about it, I think we all will see a cup that overflows.